LONDON - Between May 10 and May 21, 2021, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other militant Palestinian groups engaged in intense fighting in a tit-for-tat escalation of force – it was a surge of violence that would claim the lives of some 253 Palestinians in Gaza and 12 Israelis. Among the dead, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), were 66 Palestinian children. Two Israeli children were also tragically killed in the fighting, reports Action on Armed Violence (AOAV.
During the course of those 11 days, the IDF relied heavily on airpower, conducting airstrikes to retaliate against Hamas and discourage further rocket attacks against civilian targets leashed from Gaza. Between May 10 and May 17, 2021, the IDF conducted 1,450 airstrikes in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. In these strikes, which levied a ‘catastrophic‘ toll on the civilian population and infrastructure, weapons designed and manufactured in the United States were frequently used.
One of the American-made weapons deployed by the IDF was the common Mk-84 (pronounced Mark eighty-four), a 2,000-pound general-purpose air-dropped bomb that can be fitted with a guidance kit. This article aims to analyse which manufacturers from the United States of America (US) and the European Union (EU) may have produced the components for the Mk-84 bombs used in Gaza, as well as their associated guidance kits. This is worth examining, given what Human Rights Watch have called ‘apparent war crimes’ in the bombing campaign.
US-made Mk-84 bombs have been the weapon behind a number of civilian deaths and casualties, not only in Gaza but across the globe, either as a consequence of foreign military sales or because they were used by the U.S. military directly.
In 2016, for instance, the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes in Yemen, killing 97 civilians, 25 of whom were children. During these airstrikes, U.S.-made Mk-84 bombs were used. Ten years previously, in July 2006, Israel used US-made Mk-84 bombs in Qana, southern Lebanon, to conduct airstrikes which would lead to the death of 57 civilians, most of whom were children.
These two incidents, and the most recent examples from Gaza, show that weapons production and exports are not only very lucrative for the manufacturers involved, but also frequently have a terrible effect on civilians.
Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) is a London-based research charity that has a central mission: to carry out research and advocacy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of global armed violence.